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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Candrea’s message finally gets through

A problem with Arizona softball has lately been its inability to get “timely hits,” as head coach Mike Candrea puts it.

In Wednesday’s doubleheader against New Mexico State, the issue was more evident than ever. Twice, with the bases loaded or with runners in scoring position, the Wildcats were unable to come through. That led to them dropping the first game 9-5 and winning the second 6-3 after a comeback.

Candrea has described hitting as “the most difficult skill” in softball, yet at the same time the most contagious. The team’s troubles as a result of weather problems have been well documented, but Candrea refused to shift the blame.

“I’m not going to sit here and make excuses for Arizona, because there aren’t any,” he said. “We got beat.”

The Wildcats seemed to always find a way to get on the competition early in the season but would then let the opposition slowly creep back into the game, prompting a repetitive “timely hitting” speech from Candrea.

“We’re getting into the part of the year where you have to compete,” Candrea said. “You have to compete your butt off from the time you walk in the stadium until the time you leave.”

From the third inning of the first game of the doubleheader until the third inning of the second game, the Wildcats’ bats were lethargic as the team only notched three hits.

Arizona was unable to pounce on the Aggies when it had the chance, and there were plenty. Twice the bases were loaded for the Wildcats yet no one was able to make it home. In both games, the Wildcats left 12 runners on base.

The Aggies did not help their own cause, committing four errors on the day, but they were still able to pull out one victory. Had New Mexico State finished off the Wildcats in the second game, it would have marked the first time that Arizona would have ever been swept in a doubleheader at Hillenbrand Stadium.

“In the second game we had a different speed and a little more movement,” senior Lini Koria said. “The other pitcher that came in in the second game started throwing more rise balls on us and forced us to lay off of it. We sort of made adjustments, but I’d say it was a matter of bringing our zone back down to what we’re used to and not going after their pitches.”

The players who usually record big hits, like junior Brigette Del Ponte, Chelsea Goodacre and senior Jessica Spigner, struggled in the early going with the pitching from New Mexico State. Del Ponte, who leads the team in batting average, Spigner and Goodacre combined to get four hits in 16 at-bats between the two games.

The only hitter who appeared to have consistent success against the Aggies was freshman Hallie Wilson, who came up clutch all day for the Wildcats. Wilson was able to get six hits and five RBIs in eight plate appearances. She hit a home run in the first game to push the lead to 3-0, but Arizona was unable to hang on. In the second game, her last plate appearance turned the game around for Arizona.

Down 3-1, Wilson smashed a pitch through the gap between the second baseman and the shortstop, driving in two runs, inciting a run of hits from Spigner and Del Ponte, who each hit doubles after Wilson. Talk about contagious, timely hitting.

“We’ve all experienced games like that situation so it’s a matter of adjusting better,” Koria said. “We saw what we did in the first game. When you have doubleheaders, you want to adjust from the first go around, so we did a better job at recognizing what we needed to do.”

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